Here are some tips for keeping your food costs to a minimum:
Make Your Own Meals
It may be tempting to treat yourself to nightly restaurant meals, but most restaurants are said to charge as much as a 300 percent markup, which means you’ll almost always pay more to eat out as opposed to cooking at home. If you rent an apartment, house or cabin with a kitchen instead of a hotel room on your next trip, you can prepare some of your own meals to avoid dining out every night. As an added bonus, there’s a good chance your rental will be cheaper than a hotel, so you’ll save money there too.
Find a Hotel Room That Includes a Mini Fridge and Microwave
If you can’t find a rental or would just rather stay at a hotel for convenience purposes, try to find a room equipped with a small refrigerator and microwave. This way, you have the option of storing and reheating restaurant leftovers instead of throwing them away and paying for full meals the following day.
Book a Room Where Breakfast Is Included
Some hotels offer free breakfast as part of your nightly room rate. However, don’t make the mistake of overpaying for the convenience of having breakfast on-site. When you shop around for hotels, compare the rates of those that do and do not serve breakfast to see where the difference lies. If you find that you can book a room for $100 without breakfast versus $120 with breakfast, it pays to go with the cheaper room and buy your own no-frills breakfast for under $5. But if you find that the cost to have breakfast included is only a few dollars more, it might pay to add that $5 to your nightly rate, fill up on a good meal and save money by not needing such a heavy lunch.
Try Street Food
Though food trucks and carts are more ubiquitous in some cities than others, many offer quality meals at affordable prices. When you buy your food on the street instead of at a restaurant, you don’t have to worry about tipping a waiter, and the cost of your meal will most likely be less to begin with.
Pack Your Own Snacks
It’s natural to get hungry when you’re out and about doing awesome touristy things, but buying snacks on the fly from newsstands or corner shops can cost you. Instead, stash some energy bars or trail mix in your suitcase before you leave, and dig into your supply as needed while you’re away.
Look Into Online Restaurant Certificates
Sites like restaurant.com allow you to purchase certificates to local eateries at a discount. Though these certificates do come with certain restrictions, if you’re visiting a new city, it pays to see what kind of deals you can snag.
Unless you’re taking a truly food-centric vacation, there’s no need to spend tons of money on meals while you’re traveling. Besides, the less you spend on food during your next trip, the sooner you’ll be able to take another one.